Advertisers in the world or global market encounter limitations which include media and products that are unique as well as the language, legal limitations that are also unique in every market. All these limitations are supposed to be considered at the time the advertisers are designing a promotional mix. While the world together with its market turns out to be sophisticated, a greater emphasis is put on the international marketing mix. The debate these days do exist among the market players in the world market and this debate concerns the effectiveness of advertising that is standardized against advertising that is modified for the culturally diverse markets.
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Advertising in the International Market
As the level of competition goes up and the markets undergo expansion, there is a placing of much emphasis on the global brands and also greater emphasis is being placed on the recognition of the image. The conclusion that is drawn that shows some logic tends to be that, the motives of the buyers and the goals of companies are similar for different countries, therefore in such a case, the orientation of advertising can turn out to be similar or the same. But in the case where there is variation in this regard, from one country or nation to the other, the effort carried out in advertising will have to give a reflection of these variations.
In whatever the case, variety in the availability of the media, the coverage of the media as well as the effectiveness of the media will have to be looked at in setting up the advertising plans. If similar appeals are employed, the presentation of these appeals may be broadcast by radio in one nation, by TV in another, and video in another nation.
A practitioner in advertising who has adequate skills is supposed to have sensitivity to the environment and be aware of the fresh facts regarding the market. It is as well of great significance for the success derived from the international advertising undertakings to show keen concern to the process of communication involved as well as the steps that are involved in offering the communications.
An international sales force that is effective comprises one of the biggest concerns of the international marketer. The sales force of a business organization or company gives representation of the main alternative company organizing methods for international distribution and as such, the company is at the forefront of a marketing organization. The role that is played by both the foreign and domestic marketers is changing rapidly together with salesforces and the international managerial teams’ composition. The international managerial teams as well as the salesforces have several unique requirements that are being taken up by the locals, expatriates, the nationals from third countries, or by all the three groups combined. In the years that have just passed, the development patterns in countries have been one that has put much emphasis on the personnel from within, or local personnel to operate in their own countries.
Standardization versus Adaptation
Even if some form of standardization may be possible in the advertising campaign in world marketing, there is need to have some form of adaptation. This is for the reason that, by doing this, such issues as legal restrictions and offending people may be avoided. International advertising standardization in this case is a term that is used to refer to employing a common approach to carry out product promotion in all countries in the world market.
Those people who support this approach of standardization present arguments that a message of advertising having very minimal modifications or having some translation carried on it can be employed in all the nations to reach the consumers. The rationale they present to justify this is that the buyers, regardless of which part of the world they come from, have similar needs and wants and therefore these buyers can be persuaded by employing general or universal advertising appeals (Levitt, 1983).
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Four reasons exist that make this standardization approach to be appealing. One of the reasons is that this approach allows the multinational companies to maintain a consistent image as well as an identity that is consistent all over the world. Another reason is that, this approach brings down the level of confusion that may exist amongst the buyers who engage in traveling frequently. More so, another reason is that, the approach enables a multinational corporation to engage in developing a single advertising campaign that is well-coordinated across the various markets. The last reason is that standardization brings about substantial savings that result from the reduction in the media costs, the advertising illustrative material, and the advertising production costs (Keegan, 1989).
But on the other hand, it is argued that separate messages are supposed to be used to reach different buyers in the various markets by ensuring these messages fit in every particular country (Kotler, 1986). Regarding this approach, there are overwhelming differences in terms of culture, legal matters, economy, media and the differences in the products from one country to the other or from one region to the other. More so, these differences that exist make it necessary to adapt or develop fresh advertising strategies. More so, anecdotal confirmation tends to challenge the fundamental assumption of the standardization approach by giving a suggestion assuming that the motives of buyers across foreign markets are similar may, on one hand, be simplistic but on the other hand, they are very dangerous (Helming, 1982).
However, deciding to standardize or not to standardize can not be taken to be a dichotomous decision. Normally, there are levels of standardization in international advertising. According to Light (1990), it is desirable to carry out an international advertising standardization campaign while adapting other features of international advertising being adopted. This is for the reason that cultures vary from one country to the other.
Synodinos et al (1989) researched advertising practices in 15 countries. This study established great lack of similarities in the advertising practices in these nations. These dissimilarities were attributed to cultural factors among other factors. Kanso (1992), in his study in which he carried out the examination of the international strategies in advertising by Fortune 500 biggest corporations, established that messages given out in advertising should be the ones that fit in the traditions and beliefs that are held by the people in every country.
Meuller (1987) established that there is an impact on the advertising message appeals by the traditional cultural values. This was established after carrying out a study that involved studying the Japanese advertising strategies and comparing them with their US counterparts. It was established that the Japanese magazine advertisements had a tendency to employ “more-soft” sales as well as status appeal and carried fewer information appeals and showed more respect for the people who were the elderly as compared to the U.S counterpart advertisements. Mueller later concluded that the Japanese advertisement is not near to getting westernized and thus, it was not appropriate to use the Western advertisement strategies in Japan. Therefore, the standardization approach to advertisement is more likely in the case where the cultural differences are not large, but where there are large cultural differences standardization is less likely.
Laws that govern advertising practices vary from one country to the other (Harvey, 1993). Harvey goes ahead to report that the multinational companies these days encounter advertising regulations that are greater by the governments in the foreign countries than it has ever been in the past. These regulations affect the effective application of standardized advertising strategies. Therefore, this calls for the need for multinational corporations to keenly analyze the regulatory policies of the host country as they set up strategies concerning the marketing mix.
Separate messages should be used to reach different buyers in the various markets by ensuring these messages fit in every particular country. Overwhelming differences in terms of culture, legal matters, economy, media and the differences in the products from one country to the other or from one region to the other do exist. More so, these differences that exist make it necessary to adapt or develop fresh advertising strategies. More so, anecdotal confirmation tends to challenge the fundamental assumption of the standardization approach by giving a suggestion assuming that the motives of buyers across foreign markets are similar may, on one hand, be simplistic but on the other hand, they are not favorable.
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